Thousands of staff in Leeds and York are encouraged to get into the savings habit

Michael Royce, Senior Policy and Propositions Manager at the Money and Pensions Service
Michael Royce, Senior Policy and Propositions Manager at the Money and Pensions Service
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STAFF employed by two major public sector organisations in Yorkshire are set to enjoy a more prosperous future after taking part in a major payroll saving scheme.

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The initiative - which involves staff from NHS York and Leeds City Council - aims to encourage more people to get into the habit of saving with credit unions.

Over the next year MAPS (The Money and Pensions Service), in partnership with the Financial Inclusion Centre will run two trials across the workforces of Leeds City Council and NHS York, to understand how to increase participation and saving through a payroll scheme with Leeds Credit Union.

The trials will test whether staff promotion of payroll saving and prize draw incentives will motivate people to sign up and to continue to save through these schemes. The results will be used to provide employers across the UK with practical tools and promotional materials to encourage staff to save through payroll schemes.

Today, MAPS will launch the trials and an initial report, which is based on a study of 1,600 workers at Leeds City Council and NHS York. The survey found that half of workers (50 per cent) believed that their financial situation makes them anxious.

A third (37 per cent) said they strongly agreed or tended to agree that money worries had affected their health over the past year.

A spokesman for MAPS said: “Increasing levels of savings enhances people’s financial resilience and their ability to deal with financial shocks such as unexpected bills, yet 11.5m UK adults have less than £100 in savings and investments.

The spokesman added: “Employees who save with a credit union via payroll are more likely to save the same amount each month than staff who are credit union members but saving through other methods and those who aren’t credit union members.”

Leeds Credit Union (LCU) is one of the largest community-based credit unions with more than 37,000 members.

Led by the Financial Inclusion Centre (FIC) the research will test two participation themes on interest and membership take-up of saving via payroll deduction with LCU.

The first theme, which will operate across NHS York’s 8,630 employees, will test the impact of “person-centred” promotional activity.

Existing staff users will engage with colleagues and aim to establish payroll saving as the “social norm” within the workforce.

The second part of the project will use prize draw incentives, across Leeds City Council’s 14,500 employees. It will test the impact of incentives in the form of one-off cash prize draws to encourage staff to join the credit union and set-up monthly payroll saving and then maintain the savings habit over six consecutive months.

Michael Royce, Senior Policy and Propositions Manager at the Money and Pensions Service said: “We hope these trials bring to light the important role employers have to play in improving the financial wellbeing of their staff, and will move them to offer similar payroll saving schemes.”

MAPS, which is sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions, brings together the free services delivered by the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise.

The staff who have benefited from regular saving schemes include Lydia Morrison, 39, who is a bed manager at NHS York

After hearing about her employer’s payroll saving scheme she decided to join so she could save for a special 40th birthday celebration next year. She puts away £50 per month, and while a small amount, over 14 months it will amount to a nice sum.

Ms Morrison plans to continue saving through the scheme in the long term.